Oman Air team ensures podium place at ESS with dazzling final day effort

Muscat: The Oman Air team made sure of a podium place with a dazzling final day performance at the Extreme Sailing Series in Cardiff.
Having gone into the deciding last day of four holding third spot by a single point, the Oman Air GC32 crew pushed their immediate podium rival out of contention into fourth place and came within a heartbeat of claiming second overall in the Cardiff Bay showdown.
After posting two second places and a third in the early encounters, the Omani boat stepped up a gear to win three of the last four races, including the double-points finale.
When the spray settled, overall honours went to the ultra-consistent Swiss team on Alinghi with 307 points after they overhauled long-term Cardiff leaders SAP Extreme Sailing Team, who finished on 304 — just a single point ahead of Oman Air. It was an impressive comeback for a team who were in fifth place at the end of the first day, and who showed real resilience to recover from a capsize on the penultimate day after which crew Pete Greenhalgh required medical treatment.
“We had a pretty good day on the water today and we pushed it hard and were fighting for the win,” said skipper Phil Robertson.
“We were a little bit on the backfoot after day one when we were 20 points behind SAP, and the swim we had yesterday didn’t help, so it just showed we were getting better and better as the regatta went on. “You want to be peaking on the last day and that’s what we did — we won the day today and we have been strong over the last three days.”
At one point in the final race the fleet running order had the Omani team of Robertson, Stewart Dodson, James Wierzbowski, Nasser al Mashari and reserve crew member Adam Piggott winning the Cardiff event overall before late changes settled the final placings.
“We had a great day today and we did our best and finished on the podium,” said Al Mashari. “We are happy with how it went and are looking ahead to the next event and getting another good result.”
Next stop for the globe-trotting Extreme Sailing Series is San Diego in southern California from 18 to 21 October, followed at the end of November by the double-pointed season decider in Los Cabos, Mexico.
In the overall season standings Oman Air are in third place with 51 points, with Alinghi leading on 57 points and SAP holding second spot with 55.